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Segarra scalps Belarussian GM

Unheralded FIDE Master Randy Segarra held his own against two Belarussian Grandmasters, stunning Kirill Stupak in the first round and drawing Vladislav Kovalev in the second to boost his title chances in the Philippine International Chess Championships Subic Bay Peninsular Hotel in Zambales Wednesday.

Seeded just 27th out of 38 players, Segarra pulled the rug from under eighth seed Stupak with a 46-move win of a Caro-Kann Defense in the first round Tuesday night and then eked out a 30-move draw of a Queen’s Pawn: London System against No. 6 Kovalev the morning after to move in contention.

Segarra later said Stupak was the second GM he beat after he also shocked Armenian GM Avetik Grigorian in this same tournament two years back.

“My preparation and a little bit of luck also helped me,” said the 38-year-old Segarra, who worked for RCBC as a full-time employee and also coaches the La Salle chess team in the UAAP, in Filipino.

IM Jan Emmanuel Garcia downed countryman Ali Branzuela to seize a share of the lead after the first round.

GM John Paul Gomez, the country’s highest ranked chesser here being the ninth seed, split drew with IM Emmanuel Salvador while reigning Philippine Open champion GM Joey Antonio was held to a standoff by untitled Manny Yu.

IM Ronald Bancod also agreed to a standoff with Indian IM Abhimanyu Puranik while IMs Paulo Bersamina and comebacking Ricardo de Guzman halved the point with Rodolfo Panopio, Jr. and WIM Bernadette Galas, respectively.

Segarra and Garcia were the bright spots to what had been a bleak day for the Phl campaign.

International Master Oliver Dimakiling lost to top seed GM Wang Hao of China; IM Haridas Pascua bowed to No. 2 GM Anton Demchenko of Russia; IM Chito Garma lost his way to Kovalev; Woman IM and newly-minted WGM Janelle Mae Frayna was brought down by No. 7 GM Merab Gagunashvili of Georgia.